Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said recently that while he has some concerns with big tech’s growing power, he overall thinks they are good for society.
“Yes, they’re big. Big can do good things as well as bad things, and you’ve got to separate the wheat from the chaff,” the Democratic senator from New York said in a podcast published Monday by Recode. “Would the world be a better place or a worse place if there were no Amazon right now? My guess is a worse place. And yet, there’s a lot of problems, for sure.”
When it comes to potentially doing something about the individual and collective influence of Silicon Valley, like federal oversight, Schumer seems reluctant.
“Government regulation of speech is a frightening thing and has a bigger downside than upside,” Schumer said. “So I approach the issue with care, maybe more so than some of my colleagues who have similar politics to me.”
However, Schumer also supports a pending bill presented by his Democratic colleagues Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Mark Warner of Virginia. The legislation would force social media companies like Facebook to become far more transparent with their political ad-purchasing process, while also restricting control over their own operations.
Schumer appears to be playing both sides of the debate.
“Facebook is a very powerful force,” Schumer said. “I think, overall, it’s been a very positive force and now people are taking advantage of the openness of the net. And Facebook has an obligation to try and deal with it.”
“Amazon does great things for huge amounts of people,” Schumer also said.
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“They only have three to four percent of the retail market,” he added, according to Recode. “Could it get greater? Yes! But again, I’d be careful. They are creating cheaper, better competition.”
Taking the top lawmaker’s comments at face value, Schumer seems to be more optimistic about Silicon Valley’s societal effects. This sentiment, for the most part, flies in the face of a large portion of the public’s skepticism, even hatred, of the tech industry.
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